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The Basics of Business Card Design

A business card in some cases is the most important marketing piece that a company will have. It has the potential to make or break business deals, and is just as important as the way you present yourself during a first impression. In this post, we will cover some of the basics such as typography, layout, object placement and printing standards when designing a business card.

Printing Standards Link

Before you move too far into a fresh design, printing standards should always be considered. Most printing companies now require files to have appropriate bleeds and margins or your might get an email to upload new files and in some cases, incur extra fees. To correctly set up your design, you need to download or create a template. There are two ways to establish what type of template you are going to use, and that is whether you are going to have image bleed or not. Bleed is the area in which an image runs off the edge of your design. If your image doesn’t bleed then your job just got a little easier. Use a 3.5×2 document. If you are using bleeds, then make sure your template is set up with a 1/8″ margin outside the printable area. You can download a sample template here1.

Typography Link

Using typography in business card design is critical to having a great looking business card. Limit the number of fonts that you use. Too many type styles can really get confusing. On top of that, it could just be downright ugly. Use a font that compliments the logo or other elements on the card.

Layout and Object Placement Link

Don’t clutter your business card design. Always remember that there is a back side available to print. If your client gives you a laundry list of information that they want on their card, then create a couple of different areas of text on the front, usually the contact info, and keep the extraneous text to the back side. Logo placement can be a critical point in the overall design. As a designer, use your judgment as to how much space you want the logo to take. Maybe it’s an awesome logo and it needs an entire side of the card. When I start with a business card design, I usually start with 5-10 different layouts and narrow them down as the design moves forward.

Don’t forget that a business card is a point of contact, not a brochure. It could be single-handedly be the most important marketing piece for some companies. The object is to leave a lasting impression and create a feeling of class and trust. Thanks for taking the time to read this article, and I hope that it will benefit you on your next business card design. If you’re looking for some great business card inspiration, then check out Creattica2 for some awesome business card examples.

Business Cards

Footnotes Link

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SmashingConf Barcelona 2016

Hold on, Tiger! Thank you for reading the article. Did you know that we also publish printed books and run friendly conferences – crafted for pros like you? Like SmashingConf Barcelona, on October 25–26, with smart design patterns and front-end techniques.

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Brett Davis is the owner of Make Me Cards, a printing company specializing in business card printing. He takes great pride in producing the highest quality business cards possible. You can visit his website or follow him on Twitter.

  1. 1

    Picture this, I’m sitting at my PC re-designing my own business card when up pops your tweet with some very welcome inspiration… impeccable timing Brrett :D

    • 2

      Your welcome :)

      • 3

        Brett, found your blog in a random way as you do!- interesting reading. Not sure though, that as a designer you should be spreading the use of basic bad grammar by your use of when you actually mean . It seems that half the world doesn’t know the difference and I think we have a social responsibility as designers to correct that misconception! Sorry, it’s just a little bête noire of mine but I think it is hugely important. On the business card tip here are some of mine:

      • 4

        Oops! the post I submitted above has been stripped of the most important info due to my use of tags! Any way of editing that to show what I was talking about? ” your ” instead of ” you’re”.

    • 5

      That’s great Lyz. Glad our post was able to give you some needed inspiration. :)

  2. 6

    Great post! I’ve always thought that DubLi has wonderful business cards, though I don’t have an image to hand right now.

  3. 8

    Excellent timing Brett!! this put me on swing on re-design my bc ..

  4. 11

    Check out Mandate Press for letterpress business cards. Although it is trendy they make a very good first impression “WOW” factor.

  5. 12

    Nice design, I commented

  6. 13

    Very nice design. I love it. Simple and to the point.

  7. 14

    Amazing article! Loved the way you descrive the way to think about typography, I would like to share one business card we made so far:

    Cheers guys!

    PS: Love the new website layout. :)

  8. 17

    I’m a big fan of not paying to get my cards printed, and instead making my own – makes them more unique and fun, especially when you add texture to the card (through stamps, cutouts, or wraps).

    I wrote a blog post about it:

    Otherwise, love the information about typography and not cluttering, great info!

  9. 19

    Excellent post, Brett. I always try to emphasize that business cards are so important because they are a potential clients’ first impression of you!

    • 20

      I think its easy as designers to understand the first point of contact element of a business card, the problem seems to be conveying that message to small business owners. Be sure to remind clients the importance of a nice card. Thanks for the kind words, glad you enjoyed the post.

  10. 21

    Great post!. Good tips that help define the design of this important piece of business. I share with you other criteria for the design of business cards

  11. 23

    Wow, what a great article. I feel like lots of people drop the ball on business card design because – well – they get lazy. The basic solution in business card design with all text aligned right and logo left. BLAH!

    Great examples of amazing business card design/ THANKS

    • 24

      I also think people drop the ball on the printing processes. I’m currently working on a post about using different print processes to accentuate the design of a business card.

  12. 25

    Hi Brett! Very nice and clear post! Even if we are witnessing a phase of paper digitization I think that a paper business card is indispensable, especially in the launch phase of a startup or in the process of setting up of a new company..
    Check out this post with some tips to create a professional business card:

    I thank you in advance for your comments :)

  13. 26

    My card is not fancy at all, but I took care for the paper. It has a thin matte foil coating, which is very pleasant to touch. People usually mention this when I handle the card to them, and this allready make them corious about my work. :) Thanks for the article, was a nice reading!

  14. 28

    Hey Sachin, I actually want to get into letterpress myself. The end results of letterpressed products are phenomenal. I’ve actually been following this site for a while now and they have some top-notch stuff for inspiration.

    Beast Pieces

  15. 29

    Haha, I do the same thing. Placing the information is so hard because there are an infinite amount of ways that you can lay it all out. Business cards are actually very tough for me to design, but I do enjoy it, especially because I really get to play around with typography.

  16. 30

    Hello Waheed, glad you liked the article. Keep up the great work with Smashing Share.

  17. 31

    Thanks Alan! I’m really enjoying the process of creating these types of posts. I’m able to be more creative and also, I get to present the information in a design that actually suits it.

  18. 32

    Hey Richie, we will definitely try our best to keep on creating quality posts. Content is King! :D

  19. 33

    Looks great Lyz! I’m really into simple business cards. The only suggestion I would make is to maybe move up the text a bit so it isn’t too close to the bottom edge. Other than that, great job! :)

  20. 34

    I know exactly what you mean. I’ve already made the same mistake myself. :)


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